Anyone who has ever participated in athletic activities has experienced an athletic injury.
Particularly in high-impact sports like weight-lifting, wrestling, baseball, football, basketball and the like, muscle pulls and tears, tendinitis, hyper-extended joints and bruises are common.
Fitness training is an athletic activity. As such it is common to overhear complaints about shoulder problems, muscle tears, knee problems and lower back injuries.
Avoidance is the first line of defense. This is hard because our ego is constantly pushing us to surpass any previous weight totals, or to get that extra rep.
Treatment is the second line of defense. Again, our ego gets in the way, and we often try to “work our way through” injuries, keeping up our training and gritting our teeth in the face of pain and discomfort.
There are some basic rules on the avoidance side of the equation.
- First, warm up before you stretch. Stretching isn’t warming up, and you risk injury by stretching cold muscles, joints and tendons.
- Perform some cardio type of exercises to get your blood pumping and perspiration flowing before you begin stretching. This will diminish the chances of stretch-induced injury.
- Make your first set of each resistance exercise a high-rep warm-up before moving up to heavier weights.
- Whenever possible, have a workout partner or spotter when lifting weights.
- Use the “stops” or limit settings on racks and machines while lifting any weights.
- Form is important. Never perform “cheating” exercises, for example bouncing a barbell off your chest while doing bench presses. Perform all reps using the strictest form.
- Use lifting belts, wrist-wraps, elbow-wraps and other supports for your body.
- Wear good workout clothing and shoes. Professionally designed clothing facilitates movement and won’t get caught on equipment. Proper foot gear can prevent missteps and reduce physical stress.
- Confine your workout sessions to working out. Sure, it is great to socialize at the club, but chattering can be a distraction to your friends and yourself, even those around you, particularly when heavy lifting.
- If you have enough energy to talk while on a cardio machine, you’re not working hard enough. It is also very distracting to those who are trying to focus on their workout.
Treating Your Athletic Injury
- If you have an athletic injury that is causing you discomfort, see a medical practitioner, preferably one who specializes in sports medicine.
- Use ice-packs or immersion applied to an injured area until the swelling goes down. Then use heat to increase the blood flow and circulation so that healing can begin.
- You should not attempt to work through injuries by continuing to work the injured area. Rest the muscle or joint until the discomfort is diminished or gone.
- Use supports for the injured area while working other muscle groups. Lifting belts, wrist-wraps and elastic bandages are always a good idea, but particularly when you have an injury.
- Deep muscle massage can assist the healing of muscle pulls, bruises or other non-skeletal injuries.
- Chiropractic adjustments have assisted many who had skeletal, joint or muscle injuries.
A two-wheeler enthusiast once said, “If you ride a motorcycle long enough, you are going to go down!” The same can be said of athletic injuries. If you train enough, you will have an injury. More than likely, you will have a number of them.
Plan on it happening to you because it will. Stock your gym bag with elastic bandages, wrist and elbow wraps, a lifting belt and lifting wrist-straps. Keep a tube or jar of warming liniment handy, as well as an ice pack.
As the Boy Scouts say, “Be Prepared.”